Two days: on the trail of wolves
Northern Germany’s largest mixed forest is just under an hour south of Hamburg. Beeches have been here for 340 years, wolves poach in a dreamy landscape.
From Hamburg you can take a local transport ticket for a few euros to Göhrde station, once built for Kaiser Wilhelm, who liked to hunt here. Park your rucksack in the Hotel Kenners Landlust and then into the Wiesental, follow the jagged arrows on the sign for the European long-distance hiking trail 6 “Baltic Sea-Wachau-Adria”. It’s about ten kilometers to the Breeser Grund, an old hut forest, with trees like those painted by Caspar David Friedrich. The next day from the hotel to Govelin, then take the lily path for a short hike over cobblestones, as in the old days. Together, the two routes are maybe 25 kilometers long, perfect to get going again on a weekend.
Three days: Castle hopping on the Werra
From Friedland it goes to Berlepsch Castle, just a few kilometers to enter, through the magnificent low mountain range. Move into the bay room in the castle; maybe a pig will be grilled in the evening. The next day, continue walking through woods and meadows along the Werra. After around 20 kilometers, you can sleep well in the Ludwigstein Youth Castle. The third stage leads over almost 30 kilometers to the hospitable monks from Hülfensberg in Eichsfeld, who give hikers accommodation (by appointment).
One week: through the middle of Germany
Seven times 25 kilometers a day, and look as far as is seldom possible in Germany. The “Hochrhöner” long-distance hiking trail begins, roughly speaking, in the Thuringian Forest, runs right through the Rhön biosphere reserve and ends in Lower Franconia. On the way: dedicated innkeepers and comfortable quarters, from the “green cowl” in Bernshausen (try the Rhön sheep!) To the Kreuzberg monastery, where the Franciscans brew tasty beer.
Eleven days: On pilgrimage to the south – past cows, churches and monasteries
The “Munich Way of St. James” goes from the Bavarian capital through the Allgäu to Lake Constance. Past cows, churches and monasteries. While crowds of tourists hurry through Starnberg or the Wieskirche, taking photos, the relaxed hiker can enjoy wonderful views. Again and again there are hardly touched wetlands, through which one can wade barefoot – a bliss under the white-blue sky. There is plenty of room and board in small inns along the way. A tip: a wonderful walk leads from the Wieskirche to the cozy Graf inn in Steingaden.
Three weeks: over all the mountains to Como
The old way of pilgrims to Rome led from Lake Constance through the Rhine Valley over the Septimer Pass to Italy. The stern reporter wanted to go all the way, but as always something came up. What he can recommend: Take quarters in Scheidegg at the pilgrimage center. Drink a glass of red with the mountain guide Toni, who knows almost every stone on the way to Switzerland. The small Hotel Solaria is located in Bivio, where Uli Hauser started running again. There, talk to Gregorio or Giancarlo Torriani or Giancarlo’s wife Genny again about the next stages over a red, then tackle the most spectacular section of the route.
The Septimer Pass alone: in the third century it was still the route to wild Germania for the Romans. Old pavement and ruins can still be found here today; it goes up to 2310 meters and then down again via a donkey path. After all this effort, it goes to Bergell and later along Lake Como until you have had enough of all the beauty. Take a room in the Locanda Dell’Era in Dorio. There is great food and drink under a roof made of grape leaves.